When I was little my mom used to take me to an art workshop that was held at Hazelton Lanes in Yorkville every month. Each month a new arts and crafts workshop would be held, everything from painting, clay sculpting, t-shirt making, etc. It was always one of my favourite days of the month, as it meant getting to spend one-on-one time with my mama, doing lots of fun arts and crafts aaaaand a special lunch out at Lettieri Cafe. Lettieri sells lots of in-house made sandwiches, baked goods, and prepared foods and when I was little I just couldn't get enough of their broccoli pasta. Every single time we would go to our art workshop, I would eagerly anticipate my broccoli pasta for lunch. I guess my mom didn't mind spending the money on rather overpriced prepared food when it meant me eating my vegetables.
I haven't had that broccoli pasta in years but it popped into my head the other day when I came home from work absolutely famished in a mad hunt for something to eat! It was the day before a big grocery pickup and it seemed like the only fresh thing in the fridge was a head of broccoli. I don't know about you, but when I'm starved like that, I don't exactly dream about eating a bowl of broccoli for lunch. I wanted something that would leave me feeling satisfied but still be healthy at the same time. It was then that memories of Hazelton Lanes art workshops and Lettieri flashed through my head, inspiring me to replicate their simple dish that I loved so much, but with a few additions of my own.
This is a really simple dish to make, not to mention incredibly fast because there is no real sauce. This is one of those times when you should use the best of the best. Because there's no sauce you need to make sure that all of your ingredients have as much flavour as possible. This means really fruity extra virgin olive oil, freshly grated parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper, etc. Trust me, it will make all the difference. Lightly toasted pine nuts add texture and extra flavour. I also used whole wheat fusilli, which not only added extra health benefits, but also gave the dish a great nutty flavour.
Tip: Turn pepper grinder on a thicker grind for this one. You'll love that extra kick of pepper in each bite.
Tip: Need extra protein? Grilled chicken would taste great thrown in this mix!
Note: I don't have exact measurements here because there is really no need. This is something you an play around with and adjust depending on what you like.
whole wheat fusilli
broccoli, florets and stems, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
pine nuts, lightly toasted (optional)
salt and pepper, freshly ground
1. Cook desired amount of fusilli in salted water according to directions on package.
2. While fusilli is cooking, steam broccoli until fork tender but with a bit of a bite (you don't want mushy overcooked broccoli, you want that crunch). Once cooked, cut up broccoli into bite-sized pieces.
3. After pasta is cooked, drain and transfer back to pot. Add broccoli and drizzle with olive oil until pasta is coated. Add in some butter and garlic for flavour and toss. Grate over parmesan cheese and add the pine nuts (optional), toss together. Taste and season well with freshly ground salt and pepper. Serve with extra parmesan cheese on top.
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